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Introduction

The Empress of Sidhae is the enigmatic ruler of the Imperium. Commanding a religious, almost godlike reverence among her subjects, she is easily the most powerful, and also perhaps the most mysterious woman in the Galaxy.

Few can say anything for certain about the beautiful and enigmatic Empress of Sidhae, and most of those who can are sworn to secrecy. Even as the Empress has ruled over trillions of Sidhae for over four centuries, there have never been more than 30 people alive who would even know her real name.

Although the Empress humbly defers any pretense of greatness to her deceased father, the first Emperor of Sidhae who founded the Imperium, she has also proven herself to be a very capable leader on many occasions. The very fact that she has managed to remain on the throne for over four centuries and guide the Imperium through it's hardest times speaks volumes of her talent for leadership and statecraft.

Early life

The Empress was born sometime in the mid-21st century on Old Terra, as her personal childhood recollections suggest. This makes her one of the oldest Sidhae alive, well over 600 years old, a "Gen-Zero", which in Sidh terminology denotes Sidhae born naturally before the adoption of progenitory technology.

Although very few records from that period survive, and the Empress and her inner circle are none too forthcoming about personal facts pertaining to her life, it is believed that she was born somewhere in the Baltic States, her father the Emperor also hailing from that region.

Her life during the Great Pilgrimage and the early days of the Imperium is also largely unknown. By the time the Imperium was founded, she is estimated to have been well over 20 already. It is known that she personally fought in the Skargh Wars in the early years of 22nd century, and was consistently tutored in statecraft and strategy by her father who was apparently hoping to groom a heir. Even during the Old Imperium's heyday, the Age of Peace, she remained largely unknown to the general public, few knowing anything about the Emperor's only daughter other than that he had one. The Imperial family seems to have been very discreet about their privacy at all times.

The first reliable records of the Empress appear only around 2230, in the context of the succession dispute that eventually led to the Emperor's assassination and the Age of War. Mentioned simply as "the Emperor's Firstborn" in these records (which very well may have been redacted in later times), the Empress is indicated as a potential candidate for succession to the throne.

Reign

Around 2230, word broke out that the Emperor was beginning to consider retirement from state affairs, so the Imperium's Clans began to advance their candidates for the throne, constantly fighting for public support and bickering amongst each other, sometimes to the point of violent skirmishes in the streets. After a century of peace and prosperity, little remained of the famed Sidh unity and cohesion, the Clans that were originally formed as decentralized administrative organizations now being little different from political parties that the Sidh ideology so sought to reject.

Disgusted by their constant quarreling over the Imperial throne that wasn't even vacant yet, the Emperor boldly proposed his own candidate for the throne in protest - his only daughter.

According to the original Statutes, only the Clans could propose candidates for the throne in the event of the monarch's death or abdication. In Imperial Law, "Clan" is defined as a "fraternal organization of military veterans with an administrative mandate over sufficient territory to raise and maintain at least one full legion of troops and one full armada of ships". Under the original Statutes, Clans were effectively autonomous organizations administering the worlds under their rule in the Emperor's name - the closest historical analogy would probably be the Medieval monastic knightly orders, who were vassals and the military and secular arm of the Church. This broad autonomy, including the authority to raise their own fleets and armies and conquer in the Emperor's name, however also meant that the Clans had little reason to heed the central authority as they grew more and more powerful. To counterbalance their growing power, the Emperor had seized a sizable personal domain for himself, laying exclusive claim on the Imperium's most developed worlds, and used it's resources to raise a personal elite army of his own - the Imperial Guard.

For these reasons, the Emperor's decision was technically legal - with 13 legions and their accompanying armadas at his command, and a domain large enough to sustain even more, he and his Imperial Guard met every legal requirement to be recognized as a Clan. However, since he had never formally declared the Guard to be a Clan nor pushed for it's recognition as such, many, and especially the four most powerful Clans, denounced this decision as unlawful, the Emperor as a hypocrite who breaks his own laws, and demanded his abdication. The Emperor refused, himself having considerable support from the lesser Clans that couldn't hope to place their candidate on the throne.

Consequently, the Emperor was assassinated on September 1, 2232, sparking the Sidh Civil War between the Traitor Clans, who wanted to place their own candidate on the throne according to their interpretation of the statutes, and the Loyalist Clans who supported the Emperor and the candidacy of his daughter as legitimate.

Age of War

News of her father's death and the breakout of a civil war reached the Emperor's daughter while she was touring the outer systems of the Imperium on behalf of the Emperor to muster political support for his cause. Immediately declared Empress by her supporters, she had to make way back to New Aedun immediately to assume the throne before the Traitors seized control of the core worlds and installed their own Emperor. For the time being, the Imperial Guard was still holding their ground, but being heavily outnumbered by Traitor forces, they couldn't hope to hold indefinitely.

In the following months, the Empress made her return in a legendary journey known as Flight of the Luminon, a legend that every Sidh knows by heart. Aboard her small frigate Luminon, the Empress would make her way to New Aedun with an increasing number of Traitor forces in hot pursuit, miraculously avoiding capture or destruction until making rendezvous with an Imperial Guard battlefleet.

After securing the throne, the Empress began the long and bloody process of retaking her new realm from the Traitors and avenging her slain father. Growing desperate, the Traitors would strike a pact with Federation of Mankind and the Skargh Empire. The unholy alliance quickly soured, however, as the human-Skargh coalition saw the tide of war turn against the Traitors, and in the end began to target all Sidh forces indiscriminately.

The civil war outcome was decided by Murasaki's Martyrdom, the event where Lady Murasaki, an influential member of Traitor Clan Amendha, discovered correspondence between the Traitor Clan leaders conspiring to assassinate the Emperor and kill his daughter (their official line having been accusing the Empress of murdering her own father to seize power). Infuriated by their lies, Lady Murasaki would expose this evidence on public networks, and while murdered by Traitor security forces for this act of whistleblowing, her efforts decided the civil war's outcome almost overnight as tens of millions of Traitor soldiers immediately switched sides upon learning the truth, equally enraged by the deception and eager to cleanse the black stain of treachery from their honour with blood of those responsible. The Traitor Clan leaders had lost the bulk of their armies literally overnight, the majority of their supporters turning on them, only die-hard supporters guilty of war crimes who could expect no mercy in any case remaining to fight for them. The remnants of the Traitor Clans were crushed in 2243 in the Battle of Kentares, traitor leaders committing suicide and leaving the Empress as the undisputed ruler of the Imperium and the Sidh race.

With her power finally consolidated, the Empress now had to resolve a much more pressing threat, the invasion by the Human-Skargh coalition, which had thereto advanced into the weakened war-torn Imperium largely unchecked. At this point, the Age of War had reached it's zenith of violence and brutality, billions of innocents being exterminated by all sides at whim, entire planets being destroyed and colossal battlefleets dashing against each other in battles never before seen in the Galaxy. Weakened by civil war, the Sidhae were unable to stop the juggernaut of the combined human-Skargh forces even as they defended every inch of Imperial soil with unmatched tenacity. As an extreme measure, the Empress sanctioned the development of the infamous Omega Protocol - the planned destruction of invaded planets when defeat was certain.

The measure worked, albeit at a terrible cost - after 28 habitable worlds were reduced to irradiated hellscapes of molten rock, the attrition on the coalition forces finally began to show, slowing their advance sufficiently to muster a counterattack. Recognizing that the remaining Imperial forces and industrial resources were insufficient to defeat the enemy in any case, the Empress ordered the evacuation of the remaining Sidh worlds into uncharted space, rallying all remaining Imperial fleets and armies to buy the civilian populations time to evacuate. The Age of War culminated in the legendary Battle of Hades Gates in 2245, the Empress personally leading her forces into battle from a superheavy mechwalker (or at least so the Sidh history books would have it), finally defeating and stopping the enemy advance for good.

Although the victory at Hades Gates came too late to change the outcome for the Imperium, it had far-reaching consequences. Exhausted and defeated, the humans and the Skargh began to quarrel, blaming each other for incompetence that led to the costly defeat. Tempers flared, words were augmented with guns, and before long, the former allies were zealously battling each other over the ruins of the Old Imperium, a war that continued for the next two centuries and ended in an exhausted stalemate.

The New Imperium

With the surviving remnants of the Imperium evacuated into uncharted space and resettled on virgin worlds, the Empress was now faced with a new challenge - the monumental task of rebuilding her empire. Here too she demonstrated excellent competence.

Her first action after the Second Pilgrimage, as the mass exodus was later termed, was to enact sweeping reforms of the Imperial laws known as the Statute Reforms. The main goal of these reforms was to ensure the events that led to the Civil War could never repeat themselves, greatly curbing Clan power and reorganizing them into purely administrative entities without any real economic or military power. The entire Imperial society, culture, economy and ideology were also reorganized from ground up around the singular purpose to rebuild, recover, and return to inflict terrible revenge upon the enemies of the Imperium.

The Empress is often blamed for setting the trend of rabid xenophobia and paranoia that permeates contemporary Sidh society. Her role in this is disputable, however - the majority of survivors who made Second Pilgrimage and rebuilt the New Imperium, including her closest advisors, had lost everything to traitors, humans and the Skargh, deeply traumatized by the horrors of the Age of War, and were understandably angry and keen to do everything within their power to ensure that these dark times would never repeat again. It is hence unsurprising that the already-militaristic Sidh society in general became much more secluded, militarized, violent and hostile to everything foreign. The notions of tolerance and peaceful coexistence were abandoned in favour of simple survival, personal liberties gave way to ideological fanaticism and brutal suppression of dissent, and relative open-mindedness was replaced by rabid xenophobia and intense fear and loathing towards outsiders. Under the Empress's guidance, the entire Imperial economy was rebuilt from ground up as a massive military-industrial complex designed for the singular goal of supporting a massive military necessary to retake the Old Imperium's former realms.

For the next two centuries, the Empress was preoccupied mainly with the creation of sufficient industrial basis for the Imperium to mount a return to the greater galactic scene.

The Reconquest Wars

The day of reckoning came in August 31, 2549, when the Imperium returned with a vengeance, armadas of ships in size unseen since the heyday of the Age of War simultaneously striking over 50 different star systems in Federation and Skargh space. Within months, dozens more were overrun, the shocked defenders barely mounting any resistence. After more than a century of the last confirmed Sidh sighting, the majority in the Federation and the Skargh Empire believed them to be extinct, or left for a different part of the galaxy for good.

In the following decades, the Imperium managed to retake the majority of Old Imperium's worlds and make deep incursions into native Federation and Skargh space before their forces were sufficiently worn down for the defenders to mount an effective defense and halt their offensive.

The Reconquest Wars were characterized by extreme brutality on Sidh part, a lot more so than even the Age of War, if perhaps only because Sidhae were mainly on the defensive during the Age of War and hence had little opportunity to visit atrocities upon enemy civilian populations. Entire planetary populations of hundreds of millions that managed to survive combat later found themselves massacred almost to a man, or herded into concentration camps where most would die from starvation and abuse. The lucky ones on worlds that surrendered with minimal resistence would find themselves herded into ghettos set up in the ruins of their former cities and abandoned to their fate as their conquerors would build new settlements outside the ghetto walls.

Sanctioning and tacitly encouraging these atrocities is perhaps the darkest aspect of the Empress's reign, at times drawing her criticism even from fellow Sidhae (who are promptly derided as borderline-heretics and enemy sympathizers by the majority, of course). Although no evidence exists of her ever having given explicit orders to commit genocide and slaughter enemy prisoners, she has until recently never specified that such methods are to be avoided either, and with the general sentiment of rampant xenophobia and thirst for revenge, Sidh commanders have typically interpreted this as carte blanche to act at their own discretion, rarely showing restraint towards conquered populations and enemy prisoners.

The Reconquest Wars ended in a stalemate in 2583, when it became clear neither side could continue sustained major operations, and the humans and Skargh were openly considering to set aside their differences and ally against the Imperium. No formal peace treaty or cease-fire was ever signed, and formally all three sides still remain at war. Skirmishes (if planet-scale battles can be described as such) and minor incursions into enemy space occur commonly along the front lines, but overall little territorial gains have been made by either side as of 2640, no side daring to launch a major offensive in fears of the conflict escalating into a new Age of War.

In this period, an unspoken agreement has formed between Sidhae and humans all the way to the top levels of the government - should the Skargh ever strike a world contested by humans and Sidhae, both sides would cease fighting and strike a temporary alliance against the aliens. Both Sidhae and humans recognize that the Skargh, being by far the most numerous race in the known galaxy, capitalizes on their mutual conflict. In the event of an all-out war between Mankind and the Sidhae, either side that emerged victorious would be severely weakened and become easy prey to the Skargh. Similar unspoken agreements exist on both sides with the Skargh - in the event of an all-out war between two, the weakened victor would no doubt face extermination by the third party. This has ironically kept relative peace far more effectively than the massed armies and battlefleets at the borders.

Present day

In the recent years, the Empress has stirred up controversy by pushing several unprecedented reforms. The most noteworthy of these is without question the Human Emancipation Act, which aims to grant the human subjects of the Imperium limited citizenship over a period of 50 years.

This decision has been motivated mainly by recent territorial gains. With the acquisition of the realms of former Free Systems Alliance and the granting of protectorate status to it's parent nation Commonwealth of Altoris, the Imperium has come to control several hundred star systems where humans compose an absolute majority, and gained a sizable human vassal state. For the sake of public peace, granting these humans at least some official legal protection is in the Imperium's best interests.

Nevertheless, the Empress has met with considerable resistence from the hardline traditionalists in the government and general public. Interestingly, she has manage to attract support from one of the unlikeliest sources - archistrategos Arcadius Drax of the Alpha Legion, a man infamous for his xenophobic views deemed extreme even by Sidh standards.

As of 2640, the Empress has also engaged in diplomacy with the extradimensional Mechanocracy of Russia following the Lenin Affair, personally signing a treaty of embassy exchange with Grand Curator Stahlrim.

Personal life

Very little is known about the Imperium's reclusive monarch other than what is already known by the general public, the Empress and her associates being very discreet about the informal side of her life.

She is not known to have ever had any romantic relationships before or after her ascendancy to the throne. The Empress is known to have remarked that in her youth, men would avoid her because of who her father was, and after assuming the throne forming any meaningful relationships without neglecting her obligations to the realm simply was no longer possible. She has admitted having fallen in love once in her youth without any further elaboration, merely stating that this relationship was impossible because of her status as heir-apparent. In her own words, the Empress is "married to her nation" - running an interstellar empire indeed leaves little time for a personal life.

Propaganda sources often tout that the Empress has sworn herself to chastity until the enemies of the Imperium who betrayed her father are completely crushed. While the Empress herself has never affirmed this statement, neither has she expressly denied it. Overall, in keeping with her father's policies, she seems to prefer keeping as much information about herself ambiguous and uncertain as possible to deceive her enemies. The ordinary Sidhae, being accustomed to revering her as a demi-goddess, would consider any inquiry into her personal affairs borderline-blasphemous, and any outsiders are obviously best kept uninformed entirely.

The closest known personal relationship of the Empress is Archistrategos Jehann Lanthaus, commander of the Imperial Guard, her closest personal advisor and the oldest Sidh alive. Over 700 years of age, Lanthaus is older than even the Emperor himself, having been his close companion already in his youth, before his ascendance to power. His relationship with the Empress seems to always have been that of a surrogate grandfather. The old strategos claims to have stood at the Empress's cradle and nursed her as a baby, a claim that his unique position and extreme age makes fully credible. Whatever the truth, he is clearly the closest personal relation of the Empress by far. In recent years, she is also known to have formed a close professional relationship with General Sir Richard Greyhem from Commonwealth of Altoris. Despite being former rivals, and Greyhem having few reasons to feel personal sympathies towards the Sidhae, the Empress has for some reason chosen him as her personal confidante, perhaps in keeping with the principle that "those who have no personal sympathies to the other can be relied to be honest with their opinion".

The Empress holds deep interest in the fine arts, and is known to be a quite accomplished painter and musician herself. She has occasionally remarked that were it not for her father's assassination, she would have pursued the career of an artist. She is known to have composed several musical works, the best-known of which is Symphony of Fury, written as a requiem for the Emperor's funeral and broadcast on all media every year on the Emperor's Ascension Day, and recognized as a masterpiece by critics even outside Imperium. She is also known to be a proficient organ player.

While the exact nature of her military training is, like most other things, unknown and highly classified, the Empress is known to have considerable training as a superheavy mechwalker pilot, being documented to have personally partaken in at least one major battle (Hades Gates), and is believed to be quite proficient in personal melee combat as well, though nowhere near to the degree that her Imperial Guard, Judicator or other elite subjects are. The degree of competence she has demonstrated in personally commanding armies and naval forces also indicates she has likely undergone both land and naval officer training at some point before her reign as well.

The Empress is known to keep two pet synth-cats named Fuzz and Tails (pictured in the character profile image), Grand Curator Stahlrim and other Mecharussian delegates having the questionable pleasure of encountering the deceptively harmless-looking creatures up close during their visit in Access Violation.

Personality

Described as patient, humble, soft-spoken and calm, never voicing her displeasure more than with a minor change in tone (which is often enough to terrify the listeners), the Empress radiates a godlike aura of transcendence and ageless wisdom that visitors tend to find overpowering. Her mild manner should not, however, be interpreted for weakness or timidity - the Empress has managed to remain in power for four centuries and guide her empire through the toughest imaginable circumstances, attesting to her having more than her fair share of ruthlesness and devious cunning.

The Empress tends to be cryptic in her interactions with subjects and foreign dignitaries, always seeming to know more than she says, and always revealing just enough to make her will understood, keeping her motives and reasons to herself. With her intimate connection to the Imperium-wide CABAL network that harnesses the combined processing power of every single electronic device with networking capability in the Imperium, this is understandable - beings without the godlike intellectual capabilities that such connection grants simply cannot be expected to understand her reasoning. In any case, it is clear that whatever the Empress decides or commands, she does for a well-considered reason with far-reaching consequences, possibly even centuries ahead.

Outside of formal circumstances, associates describe her as modest and rather friendly, if a bit reserved.

Visitors have often remarked about being unnerved by the Empress and trying in vain to understand what exactly puts them at unease only to understand after a while that it is her eyes, which have the gaze of an old woman, a wise crone of incredible antiquity cast in the body of a young woman. The Empress adheres to a strict rejuvenat regimen to maintain her youthfulness, never aging to the point of looking older than 25. Since the person of the sovereign embodies the Imperium itself, her physical body must likewise reflect the agelesness of her nation, ever-young and ever-strong.

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